Solar lights aways face harsh environmental conditions like sun, dust, and rain. All these conditions react differently to the lights causing accumulation of dirt and oxidation of the plastic material, which later tends to yellow. It would be best if you always cleaned them when dirty, following the guidelines given below.
What to Use When Cleaning Solar Lights
Cleaning solar lights is almost similar to cleaning outdoor plastic or glass surfaces. You can use commercial cleaning agents, soapy water, or even plain water to get the job done. Your choice of cleaning agent or procedure will vary depending on your light’s construction and what type of dirt you are cleaning. Some of the basic things you need include:
- Soft brush
- Lint-free cloth/absorbent towels
- Window cleaner
- Lacquer/ clear nail polish
- Dish wash soap
- 6-10% hydrogen peroxide
- Distilled vinegar
It would help if you always cleaned the following parts in solar lights: solar panels usually at the top of the light, batteries, and cover.
Cleaning Solar Panel on Garden Lights
- Schedule appropriate time for cleaning like in the morning or evening, when it’s not too hot or dusty. When it’s hot, the cleaning solutions quickly evaporates and leaves streaks on the panel. When the fixtures are heated and then use cold water, they will suddenly expand and create cracks.
- Prepare cleaning solutions by mixing vinegar with soap and warm water. Ensure the lighting system switched off.
- Clean the panel with a damp washcloth using soapy water if the dirt is soft.
- If the board is muddy or grimy, use a soft brush to scrub it, paying attention to the crevices.
- After a thorough cleaning, rinse off the panel with clean water and ensure it doesn’t get inside to the electronic parts of the light. Rinsing the soapy water prevents dirt from sticking to the board.
- Dry the panel with an absorbent towel.
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Cleaning the Glass part of the Panel
- You use Windex to clean the glass part of the panel, but you can still use vinegar. It only applies if the lightboard is large and even stained.
- Clean the glass using a damp washcloth with Windex and wipe gently.
- Don’t rinse it off but dry with an absorbent towel.
Cleaning the batteries
- You should clean the battery house when there is corrosion, which appears as a white powder on the metal surface.
- Put a drop of vinegar in the corroded area carefully not to flood the battery house and allow it to settle for a minute.
- Scrub the corrosion with a bristle toothbrush.
- If there is still corrosion, use fine-grit sandpaper to scrub the area in a circular motion.
- Wipe the area dry and replace your batteries.
Cleaning the plastic cover
- Ensure the lights remain off.
- Remove the plastic cover; if it’s in a higher position, use a stepladder carefully.
- For a fixed cover, use a screwdriver to disassemble it and keep the screws safely.
- Wipe the loose dirt with a soft dry cloth.
- Ensure you cover the battery housing and lid of light with an in-built solar panel with a painter tape to prevent them from getting wet.
- Dip the cloth in soapy water, wring out most water, and gently wipe it.
- Rinse the plastic cover with a clean damp washcloth.
- Dry the plastic cover with a paper towel and apply a lacquer layer to clear the cloudy appearance and make it shine.
- Peel off the tape when the coating dries and fix your light cover.
Cleaning yellowed solar lights
There are several ways you can use to clean your yellowed plastic cover. They include the following:
- Sanding out
- The use of hydrogen peroxide
- Use bleach- Its the best to use, but bleach reacts with the plastic chemicals and weakens it. In case you use it, don’t mix with vinegar as they respond, producing chlorine gas, which can cause coughing, breathing problems, and watery eyes. If chlorine produced is in large amounts, it can be risky to your health.
Use of hydrogen peroxide
- If your plastic cover is yellow, prepare a hydrogen peroxide solution in a bucket. Ensure the bucket is not full to the brim. For the peroxide to be effective, add little water.
- With your gloves on, add ¼ teaspoon of oxy-detergent booster for every gallon of peroxide used.
- Immerse the yellowed plastic cover and soak it for 3-6 hours, depending on the intensity of the coloration and put it under the sun. Turn the cover in the middle of the soaking time if not fully submerged.
- When time is over and desired white color attained, wash the cover with water and dish wash soap using a washcloth.
- Rinse it off until the water runs clear.
- Dry the light cover with a lint-free cloth/ absorbent towel.
This method requires a little more effort than others.
- Clean the cover first with a washcloth and dish soap.
- Scrub it with extra fine sandpaper with a grit of 600 or higher until you have the desired shade.
- Rinse off the sanding dust with water.
- Dry the plastic with an absorbent towel.
How often should you clean your solar panels?
You should clean your panels thoroughly every 2-3 months to remove the accumulated dirt and debris. On the other hand, if you live in a dusty environment near construction sites or an area with a lot of trees and vegetation, you should do it monthly since pollen grains and dust will accumulate, forming grime. This filth affects the absorption of light by the panel, reducing the amount of electric energy produced.
Should you turn off the solar panel as you clean?
Yes, it’s proper if you turned off following the procedure listed in the manual.
Can you use vinegar to clean solar panels?
Vinegar helps to remove accumulated grime quickly. While using it, mix ¼ cup of vinegar with ½ teaspoon of dish wash soap or another non-abrasive soap to avoid making any cracks on the panel.
Is cleaning solar lights with a toothpaste worth it?
Yes, it’s worth it. The gentle abrasives in the toothpaste help remove the stubborn grime and light-dimming oxidation that makes your light shine.
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Can you clean solar panels with Windex?
Yes, Windex helps to remove the dirt efficiently on the solar panel by dissolving it. But do not mix it with any bleach or detergent as it contains ammonia, which can quickly react.
When you clean your solar lights thoroughly, and with the right cleaning materials, you will extend their life span. Also, cleaning your lights will ensure they remain in good condition and illuminate well.